The disappointing 2017 season comes to an end Sunday in Los Angeles as the Raiders face their AFC West foe Chargers who are playing for a playoff berth.
“It’s the last game of the season, you can’t hold anything back.”
The Oakland Raiders need to take the advice that former foe Dan Fouts quoted in his role as color commentator during the Bourbon Bowl pitting the South Central Louisiana University Mud Dogs and the University of Louisiana Cougars in the 1998 film “The Waterboy.”
And even if they can’t rely on waterboy-turned-linebacker Bobby Boucher to save the day, the Raiders can still salvage a little pride on a lost season with a winning effort that would keep the Los Angeles Chargers from having a shot at entering the playoffs.
The game will take place in Los Angeles and if it’s anything like pretty much every home game the Chargers have played this season, there will be a majority of fans cheering on the visiting team. Recent crowds in previous years in San Diego have always been predominantly silver and black, so this game should be no different.
But having a “home field” crowd in Los Angeles may not be enough to pull the Raiders out of the funk they have been in pretty much all season. The team currently sits at 6-9 on the season and have lost three straight. In those losses, the team has looked almost uninspired, even though they still had a legitimate playoff possibility when they were in a first-place tie with the Kansas City Chiefs and Chargers at 6-6 three weeks ago.
Struggling quarterback Derek Carr will face a big challenge against an imposing Chargers pass rush led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
“They are both very talented and both in double-digit sacks,” said Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing, who’s future with the team is unknown past Sunday. “You have to account for them, using chip help or bash help with the tight end. Now you’re talking about doing it on both sides. They also do a great job of moving their alignments around.”
Maybe the best thing they can do is continue to emphasize the running game like they did against the Eagles last week. The Raiders rushed for 137 yards on 33 attempts last week and had a big game from Marshawn Lynch (95 yards on 25 carries). This effort came with backup tackle David Sharpe replacing the injured Donald Penn at left tackle. Sharpe did an excellent job spelling the Pro Bowler.
“I was impressed with David,” Dowling said. “That’s a hard assignment. Monday Night Football against that front as your first start. I thought he did some really good things. I was pleased with his effort. I was pleased with the fact that it wasn’t too big for him. Even just seeing his demeanor on the sideline and the expression on his face. I thought he did a lot of nice things. Impressed with what he did.”
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders defense will have a tough time with a potent Chargers offense led by quarterback Philip Rivers, wide receiver Keenan Allen and running back Melvin Gordon.
The Raiders have been eliminated from playoff contention while the Chargers (8-7) slim hopes of making the postseason rest on gaining a win against the Raiders and a combination of results involving Tennessee, Baltimore and Buffalo.
Game time in Los Angeles is 1:25 p.m. The Raiders opened and are currently a 7.5 point underdog. The total opened at 47.5 points but has since been bet down to 42 points.